India-first approach of Quad and PM
• The firm establishment of the Quad has been one of the major diplomatic achievements of the Government of India. Its second in-person summit has just taken place in Tokyo. The Quad Group brings together the key relationships that developed after the end of the Cold War. But the strategic vision and diplomatic acumen that made this possible deserves due credit.
Importance of Quad:
• Quad as a platform and Indo-Pacific as a region reflects the era of globalization. They underline that the Indian and Pacific Oceans can no longer be divided as they were after 1945.
• These are truly contemporary concepts that reflect the rise of Asia, the relocation of the major powers, their changed capabilities and attitudes, the nature of supply chains, the importance of technology and connectivity.
• From the Indian point of view, it is also important in the context of its growing interests beyond the Indian Ocean. What began as a solution to an economic crisis in 1992 has evolved into a strategic reform.
• Some critics of the Quad have deliberately tried to evoke Cold War fiction. This is true because the Cold War was over and India’s partnership with the United States, Japan and Australia could realize their true potential. These reforms began nearly two decades ago when the dominant argument was economic engagement rather than political rivalry. The Quad is not just about developing bilateral relations or groups in the national interest. There is also a larger vision to shape the region and the world, which drives its development.
Role in global diplomacy
• Quad members are all democratic polity, market economy and pluralistic societies. In addition to that natural understanding, similarities in the structural aspects of their relationship help promote the platform. In each case, there are regular meetings at the summit level, which are formally designated as annuals. All of these have 2+2 Defense and Foreign Ministers talks with each other.
• Again, all four countries are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-led forums, including the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Defense Ministers’ Meeting. They also strongly support the centrality of ASEAN as far as the Indo-Pacific is concerned. Between them, they are involved in a number of tripartite combinations with other partners. All of them provide mutual logistical support and the work on White Shipping enables better maritime security coordination.
• Their shared commitment to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in the form of the Constitution of the Sea is significant.
• The working of the Quad takes into account the consequences of globalization, the needs of the global commons and the implications of convergence of interests in the face of the changing geopolitical landscape in the Indo-Pacific. The Malabar Naval Exercise is often cited as its flagship activity. But this one-dimensional projection does injustice to a group that makes a serious contribution to global well-being. Therefore, it is important to have informed visibility of the entire quad landscape.
Expectations for the future:
• As the Tokyo summit showed, the group’s agenda has grown rapidly. Quad collaborates on critical and emerging technologies, encourages a diverse and open telecommunications ecosystem, and discusses a semiconductor value chain.
• It promotes green shipping practices and corridors, supports cooperation on green hydrogen, and creates awareness about disaster resilience. Its collective efforts on sustainable infrastructure and transparent connectivity are noteworthy.
• Given the pandemic, it is only natural for Quad to pursue the vaccine partnership. A STEM fellowship outlines the educational connection between its members.
• Cooperation on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response is its latest initiative, given the shared history of the 2004 tsunami. Counter-terrorism and cyber security are also prominent in their scope of expansion.
• The objective of the Quad, in the words of Prime Minister Modi, is to do global good. The need for a collaborative effort for this is self-evident.
• It is equally natural that nations with significant capabilities and shared interests will respond to the need of the hour.
• India should be a part of this; it is understandable given its growth, confidence and worldview.
• The Quad expresses the Modi government’s vision to keep India’s interests at the center of its thinking while taking the world as one family.
• The Tokyo Summit is the latest validation of this approach.
• The Tokyo summit is the most projective to date, underscoring both the distance the Quad has traveled and the potential for future growth. This saw a commitment by the Quad members to expand infrastructure assistance and investment in the Indo-Pacific by more than $50 billion over the next five years.